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The Global Epidemic

A New Direction for Prevention

Due to the tenacious work of Drs. McGowan and Anton, microbicides move to the forefront as a new weapon to prevent the spread of HIV.

Highlights from the article..

Microbicides- substances that can be used topically to prevent sexually transmitted diseases (STDs) such as HIV from infecting the bodbyare not a new idea. Spermicides have been used for years- so the idea of a microbicide is not a huge ideological leap. Perhaps because it was such a prosaic concept- stopping HIV right at the point of entry- the scientific community clamored past it as they searched for more complicated or foolproof measures. The scientific community is known for being slow to adopt new ideas- in fact, it's almost a point of pride. The dark side of this arrangement is that once they've committed to an idea, it can be even harder for them to let go of it. For the last 10 years, the study of HIV prevention has been stuck in exactly this kind of a rut.


Dr. Peter Anton and Dr. Ian McGowan began their work quietly over 10 years ago, a time when most immunologists and virologists had committed themselves to working with models of HIV infection only in blood. When Anton and McGowan began suggesting that it might be equally important to study immune response to HIV in mucosa, they encountered skepticism and a lack of funding. After over 10 years of hard work (and annual support from the UCLA AIDS Institute and Macy's Passport fund-raisers) their groundbreaking assays on immune response to HIV in rectal mucosal tissues are the scientific foundation that is enabling this huge new study on rectal microbicides- a study whose results may eventually prevent millions of new HIV infections every year.

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